Account-based selling vs. account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) has quickly become a best practice for marketing to high-value target accounts at scale. If you are selling a complex solution that touches multiple business units within a large company, you likely employ some version of account-based marketing to drive engagement with your target audiences and ultimately win new customers. When executed successfully, your ABM efforts can positively impact customer retention and even upsell revenue.

In order to optimize results of any ABM strategy, teams must have an account-based selling approach to complement account-based marketing activities. So what is account-based selling, and why is this important as companies engage their target audiences?

Marketers use ABM techniques to ensure high-value target accounts are identified and engaged. One of the most important aspects of a sound ABM strategy is measuring key metrics associated with interactions and behaviors of your audience. Some key behaviors to measure and track over time are:

  • Number of events attended
  • Content consumed via website
  • Campaign response rates
  • Email opt-ins

These can help you understand your prospects’ buying cycles and specific pain points and can even provide insight into the individuals who are making decisions about your solution. A thorough ABM approach will help identify which stakeholders to engage by keeping track of the above behaviors during the buying process. This detailed data will help develop an account profile and reveal key buying-team role-players, such as end user advocates, management influencers, and financial decision-makers.

 

The common goal

ABM and ABS have a common goal: revenue! Since topline growth is such a clear goal, one might assume that account-based marketing and sales activities would be naturally aligned, with frictionless cooperation between these two functions. This is a valid assumption, but there must be a thoughtful plan in place to make certain that account-based selling activities are implemented in a manner that actually supports the overall goal.

For account-based selling to work properly, teams need to be enabled to achieve success. Here we cover three components of successful account-based selling: team organization, content, and key metrics.

 

Team organization

It is important to organize your sales teams in a way that allows team members to focus on core activities without constantly shifting priorities to achieve disparate goals. Accordingly, many sales teams are organized as follows:

  • Sales Development Reps (SDRs): responsible for setting demos, qualifying accounts, and ensuring account data is modeled correctly in CRM
  • Account Executives (AEs): responsible for closing new business and managing sales pipelines
  • Account Managers (AMs): responsible for customer retention, expansion, and upsell efforts

This specialization not only helps your team members focus, but it also provides your prospects and customers with specific points of contact as they progress through different stages of the buying process.

 

Consistent content = success

An account-based selling approach will require your sales teams to craft highly customized messages for key stakeholders on a regular basis. These messages will contain product videos, slide presentations, and customer testimonials. Those on selling teams will need this content to be created by your marketing team to ensure that messaging is consistent across all platforms.

Supporting your customer-facing teams in this manner will lead to faster response times to customer inquiries and increased audience trust. Your customers and prospects will notice when your sales teams deliver content that supports a cohesive buying experience. They will appreciate the consistency of the message and begin to consider your team members as a resource to help them make decisions pertaining to your solution.

 

Measuring inputs

An important facet of account-based selling is scaling the gritty details of engaging prospects at the account level. While it is difficult to generate a report on the quality of a relationship with a specific account, it is possible to know how frequently accounts are being contacted, by whom, and with what type of content—if we measure the right activities.

Account-based marketing metrics focus on measuring audience engagement activities. When considering account-based selling, we should measure outbound sales activities such as:

  • Number of calls across roles within accounts
  • Number of non-automated emails to prospects
  • Number of accounts covered
  • Number of demos held

These activities are the granular inputs that drive the important most outcomes: pipeline generated and deals closed.

 

The short list

Now that you know how to think about the difference between account-based marketing and account-based selling, you may wonder, “What’s next? How do I get started?” The following short list will help you develop a plan to get started with account-based selling.

  1. Identify relevant accounts. Document your ideal customer profile, and identify which accounts should be targeted.
  2. Develop a content strategy. Create content that engages key stakeholders at a variety of stages in the buying cycle.
  3. Measure outcomes. Decide which metrics will be used to gauge account-based marketing and sales impact.

Account-based selling goes beyond the standard practice of a marketing team generating a lead and passing it to the sales team to convert the lead into a customer. Account-based selling is an approach that complements account-based marketing to build relationships with your audience in a manner that is targeted, cohesive, and engaging.

Learn more about how Conversica AI empowers account-based marketing and sales.

2017 Conversica Sales Effectiveness Report

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